Holiday PineCone Cake - it may be a holiday but it sure ain't no pine cone
I didn't realise when I joined the Heavenly Cake Baker's that I would laugh so much at myself. This cake, whilst it may not have resulted in flames or deep navel gazing or volcanic eruptions, it has dashed any fantasy I may have had about becoming a sculptor and it has made me laugh alot.
Like alot of tourists, I have traipsed past loads of old stuff. Churches, museums, ruins, palaces, paintings, sculpture, mosaics - you know how it goes. It gets to the point, where I just can't look at one more human made thing with anything other than overwhelm. Except for sculpture. That always amazes me. That someone was able to take a solid hunk and make it come to life - incredible. If, for some reason, I awoke one morning to suddenly discover that I was "artistic", then I would be definitely become a sculptor.
Most assuredly, on Christmas morning, I did not wake up to discover that I was artistic. This cake is evidence of that. Every time I look at this photo, I laugh. Hilarious. Every time I walk past the cake I laugh. Every time I even think about this cake, I smirk and then laugh. I may be nearly as cracked in the head as this fondant. Curses to the English and their derision of trans fats (which Rose points out are kind of necessary to get the elasticity in the fondant).
I made this cake over three days. Which sounds alot, but it really isn't. On the 23 I made the fondant. Easy. Melt stuff and then mix it into the icing sugar and cocoa and knead until soft, smooth and supple. Hmm.
It mixed together okay. I substituted golden syrup for the corn syrup and I used a solid vegetable fat instead of the Spectrum. The glycerin, which I bought in the pharmacy section of the supermarket, was thankfully not in suppository form a la Mendy's comment. Apparently glycerin can be used for dry chafed skin or a dry throat - who knew! Now I do. And now you do too.
Anyway, I kneaded and kneaded that fondant. It seemed a bit dry to me, so I added more water. And then some more water and then even more water. After considerable time, I decided it was enough mainly because I was over the kneading. It definitely didn't look like bought fondant - not supple and not really soft.
Christmas Eve I made the ganache - again easy. Whizz up the prerequisite toasted almonds, grind up the chocolate, add scalded cream and then stir in said almonds and cognac. Maybe a fifteen minute job. It made about four cups of ganache - I ended up freezing my leftovers of about two cups.
The roulade I made on Christmas morning, before I baked the turkey. It was easy enough too - a sponge, so lots of beating etc before placing in a half sheet pan (17 1/4 inches x 12 1/4 inches). Which I am glad I didn't buy since my oven only measures 16 inches internally and I don't really have room for any more redundant kitchen equipment. So my roulade was a bit smaller than Rose's roulade. Also, my roulade had *nice* little white lumps through it, which is where the flour didn't dissolve. I am not sure why Rose instructs us to dust the surface with icing sugar before rolling up. The icing sugar had completely disappeared when I unrolled it to assemble the cake.
I did the assembly of this cake on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) to take to a dinner with friends. After the roulade is unrolled and spread with the ganache, it is rerolled and then you start to sculpt. Which isn't that technical really. You just simply cut off the side bits on an angle and reposition them at the bottom of the cake/pine cone. Except when I did that, the cake looked like a rocket. A chocolate, flour flecked, rocket. I think I started laughing about then. After laughing at your cake, you coat your
rocket pine cone in chocolate ganache and then apply the fondant - rolled to 1/8 inch thickness.
Except my fondant was rubbish. It was not 1/8 of an inch. It was not soft, smooth or supple. It was hard, dry and crumbly. I was able to roll it out and coax it onto the cut cake, but any attempt at smoothing the sides or joining seams was impossible. And I laughed even harder.
I searched high and low for a stanley knife, but they appear to have been confiscated, so I just used a carving knife to form the pine cone petals. It appears I will never be a sculptor nor a surgeon.
Look at the dryness. Look at the cracks. Look at those pine cone *petals* - more like the teeth of a great white shark. Row upon row of serrated teeth. But really, it just looked a bit like a weird brown Christmas tree. One that had been left until well into the New Year. Without water. And with no decorations. Hilarious.
How did it taste, you may ask? Too much chocolate for me. And the texture contrasts weren't so great either - since you are asking. Not sure if that was because my fondant was more like leather. Even after I picked off the fondant, the roulade with the ganache didn't rock my boat. The roulade is such a light sponge, it seemed overwhelmed by the heaviness of the ganache. Come to think of it, it tastes more like a truffle than a cake, and truffles should bite sized, not eaten with a cake fork. Maybe that is the secret to enjoying this cake? I served small half slices for the tasters, and even though they said it was nice, no one asked for a second sliver. Nothing speaks louder than no second helpings!
I won't be making this Pine Cone again - holiday or not. And to be honest, I don't think I will even be eating another slice of it. Afterall, I still have to eat my way through the second fruitcake (now more moist and rummy, but strangely, the fruit seems less pronounced - I preferred it fresh).
Wishing you all a happy, cake filled New Year.